Viscid wrote:Congrats. You seem level-headed and committed enough. Keep us updated (or write a blog!) it's always fascinating to read about e's experiences in becoming a monastic.
Jayantha-NJ wrote:Viscid wrote:Congrats. You seem level-headed and committed enough. Keep us updated (or write a blog!) it's always fascinating to read about e's experiences in becoming a monastic.
i started a dhamma blog a while back on tumblr. Its mostly dhamma postings with a few personal insights occasionally but it will be a way for family and friends to keep track of my journey once i start. I have found much benefit in the personal experiences of some monastics and samaneras i know so its a good way to pay it forward.
Doing a meditation retreat is never an easy thing, being alone with your mind, free of distractions and ways of escape like tv/pc can bring you to amazing places... But sometimes also to the recesses of your darkest fears and worries. You have to be brave enough to look into your mind and accept what comes.
I entered that place Friday afternoon and im still feeling the effects. I had a mind state arise in me full of doubt, fear, loss, and loneliness complete with a breakdown ive had only one other time in my life a few weeks before my wife died near 10 years ago.
Normally when you've reached a certain point in you're meditation you become detached to your mindstates and don't get taken along for a ride, this one latched on and I couldn't shake it. Its like all at once my mind hit me with every possible fear about my decision to try and become a monk, everything from as silly as not being able to see my favorite movie again and having to give up driving to feelings of leaving my family and my nephew and a good job with great benefits . Also an overwhelming feeling about being trapped and so many little things I'm use to that I'd be giving up as a monk, kind of seeing the totality of exactly what I'd be giving up. At one point i just let it all out and balled.
The next day in the midst of this mindstate, i ended up through determination having one of the most deeply concentrated and peaceful meditations i ever had.
You can never fight or try to push these mindstates out of you, only accept them, observe, and be mindful, sometimes they come so strong that its hard to do even for experienced meditators, but its how to do it in a positive manner.
Im still in the tail end of this mindstate but it showed me that i think in the past I've been too nonchalant about how hard this is going to be.... I knew it would be hard leaving behind my family and the good life i have, but i dont think i fully understand the gravity of just how hard, which makes me respect monks even more.
Its made me question my decision but it hasn't changed... Im going to give this a shot, because i know if i dont ill always regret it. If it doesn't work out i come back and move forward, if it does ill live a life few dare to try.
Anagarika wrote:Jayantha, I have heard other accomplished Bhikkhus talk about how important it was to visualize their teachers during moments of doubt, one mentioning that he would think of Ajahn Chah when he would have fears and doubts about remaining in robes. You alluded to this in your post, and it may be that fears and anxieties are based on just that...fears, which are often not fact based. The fact of the existence of men like Ajahn Chah ( and we can all think of others we know now in robes who are living example of life in robes) can be that pillar of strength when the mind send you to thoughts of "what have I done?" My own feeling is that if one thinks of what one has given up, there can be a sense of longing and pain. If you think in terms of what you are gaining, then there is a sense of confidence. If a life in robes were not something that for you represented an advancement, a noble commitment, then taking this path might be fraught with doubt. But if you visualize Ven. Gunaratana, or any other contemporary monk or nun, and see the life they have lived and are living, then for you it is possible, too. And what wonderful and positive possibilities await you, is yet for you to find out.
My brother once told me in reference to his vocation, "if it was easy, everyone would do it." Sounds to me like you have the right stuff. Rather than let fear guide, you, take each day one day at a time, and once you settle into the life, you may find that things like the stable job, the movies and other entertainments, are worth giving up. Many monks and nuns have regular contact with their families, and perhaps your nephew will be inspired and benefit by seeing his uncle pursuing something so positive and noble. Read up a bit on Ajahn Chah's life..he was apparently a popular young man in his village and very close to his mother. He left a lot behind, and may have had moments of anxiety over leaving, too.
Viscid wrote:Your experience reminds me of a talk Ajahn Brahm gives about Ajahn Chah, who asks his monastics "Have you come here to die?"
I have no experience with ordination myself, but from what I've read from others:
The panic you feel is a confrontation with death. You're giving up everything, so the mind revolts: it wants to remain attached, to return to old habits and ways of thinking. You've now cut off the mind from the past, and it frantically scratches at the door like a trapped rodent. Your old self is dying, and there's acute anxiety associated with that process.
Eventually monastics begin to deeply appreciate the monastic life, and the inherent joy and freedom that it brings. The process takes a long time, though [potentially years, I've heard] and there will be recurring bouts of great fear and doubt. From what I observe, the monastics that survive are those with the strongest faith.
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